Ben Fox's first senior goal of his career sent the Brewers through to the third round of the Carabao Cup. The young midfielder headed home with twenty minutes remaining to add to Tom Naylor's first half strike and put Albion in command with a two goal lead but substitute Anthony Pilkington's deft finish six minutes later set up a nervy finish.
For the second meeting with the Bluebirds this season Nigel Clough made seven changes as he went in search of a place in the third round of this season's Carabao Cup. Connor Ripley, as he did in the first round at Oldham, came into the side between the posts and it was a back four that lined up in front of him with Tom Flanagan getting his first start since resigning for the club earlier this month and slotting in at right back. Damien McCrory returned on the left and it was Tom Naylor partnering Ben Turner at the heart of the defence. On his first appearance of the season, and his return to the starting line-up, Turner was handed the captain's armband against his former club. New signing Sean Scannell lined up on the right wing, Ben Fox on the left and Jackson Irvine partnering Matty Palmer in the centre. Joe Sbarra picked up another start playing in the number ten role just behind Lucas Akins.
The home side started on the front foot and when new signing Omar Bogle bought a cheap free kick from Naylor it allowed Lee Tomlin to test the Albion defence. Whilst the initial delivery was cleared at the expense of a corner Danny Ward almost profited when the ball was sent back in, volleying just wide at the near post.
Cardiff continued to threaten and a teasing ball from Matthew Kennedy picked out Bogle, the former Wigan man forcing a smart save from Ripley.
Albion quickly got to see the pace of Scannell down the Burton right. Getting the measure of his man he was twice able to work roon for the cross, picking out Akins on both occasions, the striker flicking at the first one without making proper contact and heading the second wide at the near post.
Even early on the game was very open and stretched, Bogle providing a pacy outlet for the Bluebirds but Albion managed to create a period of sustained pressure in and around the Cardiff box. Both Scannell and Palmer sent in a succession of crossed that had the home defence stretched, the best effort coming when Palmer sent a cross towards the back post where Turner met it with a sweet volley only for Brian Murphy in the home goal to tip it over the bar.
Albion continued to look likely and when Akins dispossessed Bruno Ecuele Manga the space opened up for the striker to produce a smart save from Murphy. The resulting corner wasnt dealt with very well by the Cardiff defence and NAYLOR was able to pick up the pieces, turn far too easily and drill the ball into the far corner from close range.
Debutant defender Cameron Coxe was the first player from either side to receive a yellow card, a mistimed challenge on young Ben Fox persuading referee John Busby to reach for his card. Albion immediately made a switch and with the young defender walking a disciplinary tightrope sent Scannell to the left to test him out even further.
A Cardiff counter, as Albion pressed sent Kennedy scampering away down the left but cutting back on to his right foot he ended up teeing Lee Tomlin up for a sidefoot shot that went wide of the upright.
Bogle, looking lively, came wide to pick up possession and try to create something for himself as half time approached but on his left foot he could not force a save out of Ripley who was able to watch it curl comfortably over his crossbar.
On the stroke of half time Albion really should have made it two. Another corner wasnt dealt with by the Cardiff defence again and although there was a hint of handball about the way that Naylor controlled the ball he smashed a shot in that Murphy somehow to keep out at very close range.
Half time: Cardiff City 0-1 Burton Albion
Within fifteen seconds of the second half commencing Albion had another excellent chance to put daylight between themselves and the Bluebirds. Sbarra was able to surge down the right and cross low into the middle. Akins looked certain to score but Murphy again came to the home side's rescue with Fox just unable to snaffle the rebound from around the penalty spot.
Another excellent chance came when Scannell burst past Coxe to get into the box but his low cross was just behind all those in yellow bursting into the box to try and capitalise.
Tomlin had a good chance to test Ripley with a 30 yard free kick when Akins tangled with Bruno Ecuele Manga but the Middlesbrough loan man showed good hands to hold onto the curling free kick at the first attempt.
On the hour mark Albion were almost made to pay for not taking one of their earlier chances. A booming cross from Stuart O'Keefe was met by a flick in the centre from Danny Ward but Ripley was able to get across and push the ball away from danger.
Albion replaced Scannell with Marvin Sordell just after that and before forward could really get involved he almost his side lose their lead. Palmer tangled with Tomlin to give the forward a chance from a little closer than his last effort and this time he rippled the roof of the net with another teasing effort.
Irvine found himself in referee Busby's book for a challenge on Tomlin which prompted Clough to consider another change.
The second goal that Albion had been searching for finally came with twenty minutes remaining. Albion had been probing in and around the Cardiff box and finally found a way through when Sbarra drifted out to the left hand side, cut the ball back onto his right foot and delivered a peach of a cross for FOX to steer a header across Murphy.
Fifteen minutes to go and it was back to game on again. Tomlin, still on set piece duty delivered an inswinging free kick from the right and substitute PILKINGTON who had not been on the pitch very long got the faintest of touches to help it beyond Ripley.
Cardiff sent on more of their big guns for the latter stages to try and salvage the game. Summer signings Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Loic Damour were both pressed into action as the home side suddenly had a spring in their step once more. Albion were getting pushed deeper and deeper as the clock ran down and hearts were in mouths when Coxe flashed a shot across goal.
Albion by now had Kyle McFadzean on bolstering the midfield as Fox was replaced late on and with the Brewers looking to stem the flow of the home side.
A signal of five minutes of added time was swiftly followed by the introduction for the closing moments of Luke Murphy. Joe Sbarra, after another impressive showing, was the man replaced.
When Damour blazed over the bar with the final shot of the game it was the signal for Albion to mark their progress to the third round having inflicted Cardiff's first defeat of the season with the next round drawing seeing the Premier League heavyweights all entering the competition.